First-year PhD student Kevin Boreskie believes that physical activity promotion is critical to the health of our aging population. His research out of the Albrechtsen Research Centre at the St. Boniface Hospital is investigating how physical activity can prevent cardiovascular disease.
Growing up in Winnipeg, Kevin Boreskie was always fascinated by physical activity and its effect on overall health. Physical activity offered Kevin a variety of recreation and professional opportunities, like playing competitive ultimate frisbee on the provincial and U23 national teams, in addition to health benefits. Now, he wants to share those benefits with others through his research at the University of Manitoba.
While completing his Master’s degree in Kinesiology, Kevin spent most of his time coordinating a cardiovascular disease screening project for middle-aged and older women. He explains that women have been underrepresented in cardiovascular disease research and, as a result, we have a system that is not able to adequately predict risk, treat or support women with the disease.
To address this, Kevin’s lab at the Albrechtsen Research Centre used fitness assessments, frailty assessments and artery elasticity measurements to find predictors of the participants’ risk of cardiovascular disease. They are now tracking the personal health of these women over the next five years to look at which methods are the best predictors of risk. You can read more about this study here.
Kevin’s lab also recently completed a trial looking at how different types of treadmill exercise routines can affect blood pressure. They found that performing repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise with rest between reduced blood pressure the same amount as performing continuous exercise at a moderate intensity. High intensity interval training, however, resulted in reductions in blood pressure that lasted for a longer period of time. Kevin’s presentation on this research landed him a spot in the finals of the 2018 3MT competition.
Now in the first year of his PhD in Applied Health Sciences, Kevin’s work focusses more on frailty: an inability to tolerate health stressors that one might face due to a general physiological decline. Frailty is a way to examine someone’s biological age as opposed to their chronological age, and is a predictor of a range of undesirable health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease.
If medical professionals could identify individuals at risk for a range of adverse outcomes and then intervene early on, it could potentially reduce the risk of disease and improve quality of life in an efficient way. Physical fitness tests can be an effective way to identify frailty, which is where Kevin’s lab comes in. Physical activity can be a means of intervening, and then improving, health.
Due to its wide-ranging biological, psychological and sociological benefits, Kevin believes that promoting physical activity is critical to the health of our aging population. Physical activity can be used as a prognostic tool and intervention, before disease takes hold, to effectively and efficiently improve the health of Canadians. In between his volleyball, ultimate frisbee and soccer games, Kevin hopes one day to have a role that will allow him to improve the implementation of physical activity in our healthcare system.